The Bishnois may be considered as India’s first environmentalists. The famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was inspired by the true story of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who refused to let the king’s men cut trees in her village. Her head was severed. More than 300 people who did the same were killed for trying to protect the trees.
Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.
Hundreds of Endosulfan-affected people, this time from Karnataka, are threatening to sit on a fast until death from May 27 to demand better care from the government. Here are exhaustive reports from Down to Earth magazine, which first exposed the issue in 2001, chronicling one of the worst and longest-running pesticide poisoning episodes in history.
This is a weekend Orientation Camp organised by the Ecologise Network. It is a part of a programme through which those living in cities can explore living in an ecologically more sensitive and sustainable manner. The camp also aims to expose participants to the current world crisis of global warming, resource depletion and growing inequality.
When I wrote about vegetarianism, or more precisely, why I as an Indian environmentalist would not advocate it, I had expected an emotional response. My article was meant to provoke a discussion. Here’s what I learnt from the responses; let’s see if we can find a middle way—not to agree, but to debate and dissent.
Devinder Sharma writes: The development process is so designed that cities have been made drought proof over the years… Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing everywhere in the state, where as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year.
From The Indian Express: Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. By threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world.
From The Tribune: The drought has affected 21 of the 32 districts, including the ‘rice bowl’ area of the Cauvery delta, where we travelled. Farmers’ distress was visible everywhere. This is not just a natural disaster. Our travel made it clear that a good deal of farmers’ distress is due to man-made or policy-induced disaster.
Keith Schneider reports: The thickening chain of death and sorrow in the Cauvery Delta, formed from the powerful links of water, agricultural, and industrial policy, is bludgeoning Tamil Nadu. The human toll, counted in the escalating numbers of shattered hearts, is a disturbing measure of how extravagant, water-consuming development practices no longer fit environmental conditions.
This is the introductory article in Firstpost’s nine-part series of ground reports on the ongoing water crisis in south India. The series will cover various aspects of the near-calamitous situation in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with the onset of blistering heat waves that are putting more pressure on existing water resources.
From The Wire: Compared to farm, fishery and factory work, Himalayan porterage is rarely the subject of labour scholarship. For that matter, the forest protection and conservation labour of Adivasis and Dalits too rarely occupies the labour scholar’s interest… The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.
Shoaib Daniyal reports: The theatrics of the recent protest by Tamil Nadu farmers in Delhi might seem odd, but it was driven by a disastrous situation in the state. This country-wide map of water reservoir levels shows just how bad things are: the state has 81% less water in its reservoirs than its 10-year average.
Gulrez Shah Azhar writes: This summer’s shaping up to be especially bad in India. Satellite images show large areas dried up from lack of water. Without access to water, heat waves become particularly deadly. But heat deaths are preventable and simple measures could save lives. Here are three actions that would make an enormous difference.
From The Citizen: For his leading role in the historic 12-year legal battle that led to the protection of the indigenous Dongria Kondh tribe’s land rights against the mining giant Vedanta in Niyamgiri, Odisha, social activist Prafulla Samantara was chosen one of the six winners of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize, or the ‘Green Nobel’.
From India Water Portal: Records show there were 1.10 lakh varieties of rice in India in 1965. After the Green Revolution, which pushed for hybrid varieties, less than 7,000 remain. Debal Deb, who has conserved 1,200 climate-resilient rice varieties, speaks on the need to conserve traditional seeds and why we don’t need genetically modified ones.
Excerpt from Islands in Flux, by Pankaj Sekhsaria: These communities of thousands of individuals with a living lineage going back thousands of years have been brought to this sorry state in a mere 150 years. It began with the British and their policies, which have been kept up with clinical efficiency by modern, independent India.
Many people think that milk is normal good food. But a large part of the world until recently never consumed the milk of other animals. Even today, Eastern Asia as a rule does not use milk. So, for some, milk is the greatest food, while for others, milk is one of the five white poisons.
People living in villages, who are migrating in large numbers to cities, could be victims of our economic development or perhaps the dismal income growth of farm households is semi-deliberate to keep labour costs low… Are our rural brothers victims or collateral damage of economic development, of a deliberate though unstated strategy, asks Sanjiv Phansalkar.
The Indian coastline no longer belongs to its traditional custodians— the small fisher people. A jamboree of development —cities, SEZs, power plants, ports, sand mining— is eating up the coastline and eroding it beyond repair. Debasis Shyamal of the National Fishworkers’ Forum speaks to Sayantan Bera on the present and future of India’s traditional fishers.
Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?